Scientists launched a vast project on Thursday to map the genetic code of all 1.5 million known species of complex life on Earth, aiming to complete the work within a decade.

They described the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP) as "the next moonshot for biology" after the Human Genome Project, a 13-year, $3 billion endeavor to map human DNA that was completed in 2003.

The EBP is expected to cost $4.7 billion and "will ultimately create a new foundation for biology to drive solutions for preserving biodiversity and sustaining human societies," said Harris Lewin, a professor at the University of California and chair of the EBP.